Friday, August 30, 2013

Conversations in an Attempt to Figure Out What to Wear to a Wedding

I fear that my life among human beings has hit a slight snag. I have not one but two weddings to attend this fall. One is on Sunday and I am having a hard time navigating social norms in terms of dress while still being true to my personal style.

I have been to weddings, of course, but it's been years since I was at a wedding where I had any say in what I wore. The last two weddings I went to had dress code information given to me. I was to wear a bunad to one of them and a black dress to the other. As a result, I have no recent memory whatsoever of what is considered normal in these sorts of social occasions.

And, because I'm me, a strange thing happened, which is the same thing that normally happens when I try to talk about social norms. Suddenly, I start talking like I'm an alien anthropologist trying to decipher the strange rituals of a particular tribe of another species.

 Part the First: Contemporaries

Me: I am confused.
How does one clothe one's naked body in order to attend the hu-man* ritual called "wedding"?
College friend: Depends on the ritual. What type of hu-man are participating?
Me: The type of hu-man who are friends with one [name of groom] are participating in the ritual. Unfortunately, I possess only limited knowledge of the moral code known as "normal" in the Murrikan^ tribe of the hu-man species.
College friend: I suggest a kilt like apparatus so as to blend with the indigenous tribe, though camouflaging may be required so as to mask your operations of the ritual.
Me: I have heard that, in the Murrikan tribe, these garments are often decorated with images of the genitals of local plant life. Is this so?
College friend: I am unfamiliar with the exact practices of this tribe, but I believe this may be a good hypothesis.
Me: It would make sense, given that this "wedding," I am given to understand, is at least in part a fertility rite. Perhaps I shall test this hypothesis about the decoration of native Murrikan kilt-like garments.

Part the Second: Parental Beings

Me: I am confused. What does one clothe oneself with in order to attend the hu-man ritual called "wedding"?
Father: Nothing.
Me: We are not on Betazed. I fear that would be inappropriate in the Murrikan culture. 

* Pronounced \‘hü-mȯn\ 
^ Pronounced \‘mər-i-kin\

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Toying with Dolly Kei: An Experimental Polyvore Post

I rather enjoy dolly kei. So, for this week's post, I decided to play around with dolly kei outfits on polyvore.

Even though I don't identify fully with dolly kei, I love experimenting with new styles. Polyvore is a great way to do that without spending a dime. Who knows; maybe I'll start incorporating more dolly kei influence into my outfits. For now though, this is just me playing around with the style.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Tale of the Ice Cream Skirt: or Why I Don't Care if My Cousin Becomes a Lolita

Last year, I purchased a lolita skirt for my cousin Megan.

Megan is not a lolita. Megan, however, has an abiding love for full skirts (which flatter her shape beautifully, I must note), pink, food in general, and desserts in particular. Sweet lolita offers, therefore, clothing which would combine all of those things in one frilly package.

This purchase of this skirt was the result of months of waiting for the skirt to go on sale and a fair bit of e-mailing back and forth with her sister to make sure the skirt was something that Megan would want and to make sure that I was getting the right skirt. Technically, the skirt was a graduation present, but Megan had a high-stress senior year, so I decided to give it to her when I visited for Christmas and give her the option of opening it whenever she wanted.

She loved it. I was pleased both with her affection for the skirt and how it fit her. I dedicated three separate blog posts to ideas for how she could wear it. One day, I would love to take her along to a lolita meet-up so she can get a taste for the style that birthed the craziness of the skirt, and I have been told that she would be interested in going to a meet.

But I don't care if my cousin becomes a lolita or even wears the skirt in anything resembling the lolita style.

That is not to say that I wouldn't love it if my cousin did become a lolita. I'd love to have another rufflebutt in the family, someone with whom I could go shopping for frilly girly things in stores and to whom I could send links to dresses I nerdgasmed over. I am very close to my cousins, especially Megan and her sisters, and it's a thrill whenever we find something new to share. However, I want them to be free to discover their loves on their own, just as I have discovered mine.

This is something I've often thought about when sharing my crazy clothing choices with friends or family. I'm not one of those people who tries to take ownership of what I wear, as if the style were mine and mine alone. However, neither am I the sort of person to push the people I care about into something that I enjoy simply because they might enjoy it, too.

I want the people around me to understand my craziness, but just as I want them to accept my strangeness I should accept theirs.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Styles to Seek: Dolly Kei

Oh, dolly kei. I love dolly kei. It's creepy and cute and weird and if you haven't heard of it then I'd like to introduce you to it.

Dolly kei (or dolly style/fashion) is a Japanese street fashion inspired by vintage, used clothes to create a design inspired by vintage and antique dolls, vintage and antique clothing, Grimm's fairy tales, the Victorian era, gypsies, romanticism, goth, and very old clothing styles from eastern Europe. The look overall is kind of creepy, cute, and usually fairly striking.

One thing that differentiates dolly kei from many other Japanese styles is the lack of distinct brands. In Japan, the store at the fore-front is obviously Grimore, a store that is the brain-child of Hitomi Nomura, but due to the use of vintage clothing there aren't really BRANDS. Yes, there are certainly brands that fit into the style, especially Grimoire and Grimoire Almadel's house brands (Dolly, Rathiel du Dolly, and Verum), but there isn't the same focus on the brand vision.

Another thing that I find fascinating about dolly kei is that it's not about rules; it's about vibe. It's about the feeling of stumbling out of the dark side of a fairy tale. As such, there are a lot of common elements but no rule that any of these elements have to be present. A few common elements of dolly kei are:
  • paisley
  • tapestry
  • embroidery
  • tights, boots, and platform sandals
  • layering
  • mixing patterns and colors
  • ethnic-looking pieces
  • vintage clothing
  • fur accessories
  • tassels and shawls with fringe
  • florals
  • defined waist
Dolly kei is also a bit difficult to define in words. It's much easier to show you. I'm using street snaps and a lot of pictures from the Grimoire blog and the blogs of the staff.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

True Lolita Life: My Only Brand Dress Was Purchased By Accident

Yeah, you read that right: my only brand dress was purchased by accident.

Story time!

I tend toward classic and gothic with my lolita wardrobe. I'm much more inclined to wear black, ivory, or brown than white. As such, most of the purchases I've made have been along those lines. I'm not big on pastels or even light colors unless I can easily temper them with something darker.

But then I saw a dress.

There was a girl doing a massive moving sale, and she had several very pretty floral JSKs. One of them was pink and pretty, a little old school, and much farther toward the sweet side of classic than I usually wear. She labeled it as "unknown brand" and it was under 100 dollars. But it struck me, and it struck me hard. Three rows of ruffles on the skirt, pin tucks, lace... I was in love. And, as luck would have it, the front and back shirring on the JSK left plenty of room for my sizable bust.

I altered the straps so that it flattered my shape better.
They attach with buttons in the back, so it can easily be undone.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Adventures as a Subculture of One: Being a Lone Lolita

Being a lone lolita. It's something I think most bloggers in the fashion have written about.

I was introduced to the fashion by a friend of mine back in 2002. However, after she wore it once for a party I never saw it again, and lolita's visibility in my small hometown was essentially back to zero. About seven years later I started wearing lolita myself, and it was a fascinating experience. I've slowly grown into the style and am only now beginning to participate in the community.

As a classic lolita, I was lucky. My style was, and still is, fairly low-key; I don't stand out as much as a girl in cotton candy colored pigtails will. Everyone who commented was kind. Older ladies told me that they loved my outfit and they had worn similar things when they were younger. Girls my own age told me they liked my shoes. Older gentlemen held doors open for me or tipped their hat when I passed.

Even so, I was the only one.

In some ways, I still am. I have only managed to make it to one meet up (curse my adult responsibilities). I don't have any lolita friends nearby. My main contact with the subculture is online, from reading the comments my dear readers post to chatting with people on the local comm's Facebook group. I am, for all intents and purposes, still a lone lolita.

There are, of course, a lot of disadvantages to being a lone lolita. You can feel disconnected from other people. Without feedback, it can be difficult to improve your coordination skills. You won't always have the support you need to try something a little more out there. Friends will sometimes feel uncomfortable with your fashion choices.

But there are a lot of good things about being a lone lolita, too.

My favorite part of being a lone lolita is that there are zero community expectations. When I walk around in my petticoats (or without because it's simply too hot...), there is no idea of what a lolita should be following me about. I can find my own style and my own code of behavior.

When you do want to join in the community, we live in the digital age! You can share your frills when you want to, talk to other girls who are in the same boat, or just enjoy chatting. I've had extended conversations with other girls in the local comm about food and history, and that was extremely enjoyable.

I also love the way that any direct interpersonal connection becomes very special when it is so rare. As previously mentioned, I keep handwritten notes from the indie designers whose clothing I purchase or from fellow lolitas whose secondhand clothing I buy. I keep these notes in the pages of a scrapbook, and each one is precious to me.

Another great thing is that being a lone lolita means that you are allowed to make mistakes in a safe space. There are no embarrassing pictures floating around unless you want there to be. You can also develop your own style by experimentation without fear of being judged if an experiment goes awry.

Not, of course, that I want to be a lone lolita forever. I would love it if there were more frilly girls nearby, people with whom I could share my hobby. But there are certain things that I do enjoy about being able to explore the style in my own way.